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Name change on table

NEARLY four years after pupils from Kaiti School petitioned for Poverty Bay to be known as Turanganui a Kiwa, local politicians might agree to act, after a new report that suggests the idea be floated publicly.

Responding to a request from Mayor Meng Foon, a council staff report suggested that the council agree to research, consult and apply to the New Zealand Geographic Board to change the name of Poverty Bay to a dual name of Turanganui a Kiwa/Poverty Bay.

The staff report said the change would be well received because it was inclusive, bicultural and reflected the area’s history.

“It has minimal trade-offs in terms of administrative hassles for individuals, such as no need for postal address changes and branding.

"Recognising and reinstating original and already-used Maori place names could result in cultural and social outcomes, and contribute to meaningful partnerships with Maori as tangata whenua. Moreover, the district has the opportunity to be bold and initiate a return to original Maori names that promote our distinctive regional history and identity.”

The retention of Poverty Bay in a dual system would also satisfy navigational safety and emergency response requirements.

Kaiti School pupils' petition kicked it offThe report said the council had previously discussed the issue of a name change for Poverty Bay after Kaiti School pupils and staff presented a petition to Mayor Meng Foon in July 2013. The report said the Kaiti children felt the name Poverty Bay limited their aspirations and had negative connotations.

The report said Poverty Bay was a recorded name rather than an official name, and was named by British explorer James Cook on his visit in 1769 because as he put it, the place “afforded us no one thing we wanted”.

It won't happen overnightHowever, it would not be changed overnight.

“This is potentially a long process. The change of Whanganui District from Wanganui took at least a year from the receipt of the application.”

The report said the NZ Geographic Board had a specific protocol for Maori place names, which “usually” required the Maori name come first “to reflect the rights of first discovery”.

There would also be a need for substantial public consultation to address a “lack of historical awareness” that would require a “significant education focus” to ensure an “informed and empowering debate”.

Outspoken councillor could be more flexibleCouncillor Malcolm Maclean has previously been outspoken in his determination to ensure the district retains the name Gisborne rather than be changed to Tairawhiti. Speaking to The Gisborne Herald yesterday, he said he could be more flexible on a change to the Poverty Bay name. He was still against a change to the name of Gisborne.

“I don’t support the changing of the name to Tairawhiti. I’m still adamant that the name should not change.”

Turanganui a Kiwa means the great standing-place / long waiting-place of Kiwa.

Recognition of original name welcomedRongowhakaata Iwi chairwoman Moera Brown said the recognition of the original name would be welcomed.

“To Rongowhakaata iwi the name Turanga Nui a Kiwa provides us with an instant connection to our tipuna Kiwa who was the captain of the waka that brought our people to Aotearoa. It would be a significant signal to recognising our treaty partnership if the name we use for this area Turanganui a Kiwa was formally recognised."

This name was given when Turanga iwi settled here some 700 years ago as opposed to a name that was given 250 years ago "by someone whose encounter with our people led to the death of nine of our Turanganui a Kiwa people".

“The significance of this place where first encounters between Maori and European took place needs to be recognised by acknowledging the original name that was bestowed by those that first discovered it — Maori.

“Rongowhakaata endeavoured to address this in the course of its Treaty negotiations with the Crown. Unfortunately, time was not on our side as Rongowhakaata was a part of an omnibus iwi settlement process where the Crown did not have the appetite to address matters peculiar and specific to individual iwi. We are hopeful that our Te Aitanga A Mahaki whanaunga may be able to negotiate this with the Crown as part of their historical treaty settlement now that it has been confirmed that they can return to the Waitangi Tribunal for a decision over the Mangatu Forest.”

The council will discuss the issue at its regular meeting on Thursday, when it will also discuss a request to remove Norfolk pines near the Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club, along with a discussion on the future of the old gasworks site. located between Grey Street and Derby Street.

IT'S A SIGN: Just one of the Turanganui a Kiwa signs in the district. Picture by Liam Clayton